Lucky '13: Lauren Seip of Lowbrow Arts and Ladies Fancywork Society
With some artists, say, Ravi Zupa, he just wants to be left alone in a room to paint and paint, and isn't too involved in any of the exterior demands of the art world. But with Lowbrow you seem more concerned with inspiring others' creativity than focusing on your own work.
I don't think I ever had the idea that I was ever going to be a fine artist. I mean, I went to school for commercial art -- I didn't study studio art. But, yeah, it's really fun to take the edge out of art for everyone. To make it not so intimidating. We have a lot of people who walk in and say things like, "I wish I were creative, I wish I could make art, but I don't think I could. Yet when I'm here I feel like it's not so hard." And that's exactly what we want.
You get a lot of scented markers. A lot of glitter. Fine-art stores are great, we all need supplies. But with those you have to know what you're looking for. It's not quite as browsy if you're not familiar with the products. So we stock more lower end, affordable things. We have fun things like scented markers and coloring books.
So you feel that everyone has a creative streak within themselves?
Yes, but maybe that creative side is something that's not traditionally associated with art -- maybe it's cooking, or maybe it's dance -- everyone has it. It doesn't have to be a big deal, you don't have to go to art school and have a studio and be a serious artist, you can just sit down and make stuff up and have fun. And if it turns out really bad, all you lost is a couple of sheets of paper. Nothing bad is going to happen if you don't do a good job with art, but it's really fun so something good is going to happen if you spend enough time fucking around with it.
Do you do any work with kids here?
Sometimes we do. It's funny, a lot of people assume we work with kids. And we actually just really like color and sparkles. This is just what the inside of our brains look like manifesting as a store. So while we're not specifically for kids -- because I am not particularly awesome at talking to them -- we'll have some kids in our classes. We'll probably do some summer classes for kids.
With the combination of arts funding being cut in schools and parents wanting their kids to pursue careers with more security, what do you feel is lost when a developing mind loses the opportunity to be creative?
It's hard for me to say, because I don't have kids and am rarely around kids. But I think there is a lot of merit in letting kids hang out and make stuff without any intense pressure or consequences, which is the vibe we're trying to bring to adults. This group of crafts is actually for a group of accountants on a corporate retreat this Tuesday. [Seip gestures to a table full of glitter, Elmer's glue and scented markers.] We're basically making 130 accountants do kindergarten-style Christmas-crafts.
They may hate it. But half of them will probably have a really good time, and the other half are probably just going to go to the hotel bar, so it's win-win. You think it's stupid until you sit down to a table of glitter and glue, and you realize that actually this is a lot of fun. Especially if you have a beer or two first.